Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi uses self-reflexive symbols. He called himself Watchman and weaved a campaign around it. This article sees Modi's campaign alongside Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life: emergence of Modi's Watchman image as a totem, emergence of a clan of believers, collective effervescence, coming of a civilising hero, and Modi becoming a great god. The totem and the clan ‘disappeared’ on the last day of the elections. Only the great god remained to resurrect in millions of banners in public spaces saying: ‘Thank you, PM Modi’. This journey of this Dionysian election campaign with emotive symbols and meticulously planned spectacles built an illusion of a society with religion in its elementary form replacing the modern society for the election period.
Anand Raja teaches Sociology at the Prof. Rajendra Singh (Rajju Bhaiya) University, India. He is a graduate in Psychology from the University of Birmingham, UK, a Masters in Sociology from the University of Rajasthan, and holds a DPhil in Social Science from the TATA Institute of Social Sciences. His thesis, ‘Three Ways of Creating Symbols: Study of a Political Symbol,’ is a study of the semiotic self-reflexivity of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Raja is working on a project to look into the semiotics of the Ujjwala Yojna, an initiative to give cooking gas to the needy. His writing interests lie in the intersection of Semiotics, Social Theory, and Political Science, with an abiding tilt towards the individualist dimension. ORCID: